Lucy Clyde

Physical Education

Coatbridge High

  • Cooperative Learning

What Effect Does Wait Time Have on Pupil Responses to Questioning?


Stahl (1990) states that teachers do not provide pupils with a beneficial amount of thinking time before answering a question. Black et al. (2004) explains that expecting an answer after only a short wait time can only encourage short memorised facts opposed to in-depth detailed understanding. It is argued that extending the period of wait time between asking a question and expecting a response can encourage pupils to develop their thoughts and reasoning, providing a thorough response. The amount of time a teacher allows their pupils to answer a question is key, as questions that require thought should have an increased wait time as this produces measureable increases in learning (William, 2011).

Think, Pair, Share is a strategy used as a means of assessment to check for understanding of questions, which allows pupils to participate and engage in their learning through discussion. Braun (2017) highlights that Think, Pair, Share increases pupil participation and confidence by sharing their ideas with a partner; this being an area I was interested in developing as a means of assessing pupil learning and ensuring all pupils were actively engaged in their learning (Raba, 2017). Within this learning technique, individual participation and peer discussion is promoted, as pupils think through questions following a three step process:

  1. Think: Pupils are given individual thinking time to formulate their own answers and reasoning to the question posed.
  2. Pair: Pupils are paired with a peer to discuss their own and their peer’s answers.
  3. Share: Pupils in their pairs share their ideas with the whole class. The theory is that pupils will be more confident in providing their ideas to the class with the support of a fellow classmate and that their ideas will be more developed through this process.

It is argued that a Think, Pair Share approach to assessment is beneficial as it allows teachers to gain new information about pupil understanding, therefore, enabling teachers to use that information to change practice to better facilitate pupil learning (Ruiz-Primo, 2011).
All this considered, introducing wait time and a Think, Pair, Share approach into lessons is an interesting topic to investigate pupils’ understanding, communication and listening skills (Brady & Tsay, 2010).


The aim of the enquiry was to examine the use of wait time in a classroom setting using a Think, Pair, Share approach to answering questions. The focus was to prepare higher order questions relating to pupil learning, in order to determine the extent to which increased wait time impacted on the quality of responses from pupils.

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